Cavorting clear Ruffian winner

ELMONT, N.Y. -- Cavorting dispelled any notion that her best days are behind her or that she's distance-challenged with a dominant five-length victory in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian at Belmont Park.

Despite breaking from the rail under new rider Javier Castellano, Cavorting worked out an outside stalking trip, blew past the even-money favored Carrumba approaching the quarter pole, and cruised home a sharp winner of the one-turn mile race for fillies and mares.

Carrumba, who stalked the pace-setting Calamity Kate for a half-mile, finished second by 2-1/4 lengths over Spelling Again. Calamity Kate, who broke through the gate pre-race and then set the early pace, was fourth followed by Include Betty and Welcome Abroad.

Cavorting, a daughter of Bernardini owned by Stonestreet Stables, won for the first time since she took the Grade 2 Prioress at Saratoga last August. In winning for the first time from three starts at a mile, Cavorting improved her record to six wins from 11 starts and surpassed the million-dollar mark in earnings with $1,128,000.

"I didn't see this race coming, but I liked it," winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

Cavorting was coming off a runner-up finish to Paulassilverlining in the Grade 3 Distaff at Aqueduct on April 17. McLaughlin said some members of the Stonestreet camp were not pleased with jockey Irad Ortiz's ride in that race and asked McLaughlin to make a change.

McLaughlin tabbed Castellano, the three-time Eclipse Award winner, who gave more evidence as to why he's been so honored.

Castellano did a super job getting Cavorting from the rail to the outside of the speed horses, tracking Calamity Kate and Carrumba through a quarter in 23.75 seconds and a half-mile in 47.05.

"Everybody separated a little bit and I was able to put her in a better spot in the race," Castellano said. "The horse to beat was Carrumba and she was my target all the way in the race."

At least until the quarter pole when Cavorting took control and then ran a final quarter in 23.35 seconds to complete a mile in 1:34.05. She returned $7.80 as the second choice.

"He rode her perfect," McLaughlin said. "That way she's going to be able to get a mile or a mile plus. That was the key, sitting back and making a run and that's what she did."

Cavorting will be pointed to the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on the June 11 Belmont Stakes card. In the Phipps, Carrumba will likely face Carrumba, who was simply second best on Saturday.

"I thought she looked comfortable going down the backside, the winner just freaked today," said Shug McGaughey, trainer of Carrumba. "They ran fast."